Beeman, Bannon & Parrott

time machine music

B&N Cafe

  1. Artist: Beeman, Bannon & Parrott
  2. Album Title: Plenty Of Time   
  3. Review by: Jim Testa
  5. The jazz trio Beeman, Bannon & Parrott call Hudson County, New Jersey home, but you
  6. won’t often find them in the hipster enclaves of Hoboken.  They prefer the cabarets and
  7. lounges that dot middle-class communities like Bayonne, where their adult take on the
  8. Great American Songbook can be savored and appreciated.   Vocalist Barbara Beeman,
  9. guitarist Bill Bannon, and multi-instrumentalist (bass, piano, harmonica, vocals) John
  10. Parrott comprise the core trio, ably accompanied on this disc by Tim Ouimette on
  11. trumpet, Yuriry Zak on accordion, and a few others.  The players are all superb, but it’s
  12. Beeman’s vocals and, most especially, the group’s brave song choices that shine here.
  13. Every interpreter of popular song seeks to bring their own personal style to the song;
  14. that’s why Sinatra and Elvis rank as two of the greatest entertainers of the 20th Century.
  15. But that task is made much harder when the singer chooses material that’s already
  16. indelibly linked to another performer.  Barbara Beeman scoffs at that notion; while there
  17. are several originals by John Parrott and a few lesser-known standards here, the standout
  18. tracks on Plenty Of Time are songs we already know and love, and identify with the
  19. artists who popularized them.
  20. To which Beeman, Bannon & Parrott shrug and say - No problem.  The trio makes them
  21. their own.
  22. Barbara Beeman’s voice is a delicious mix of the coy and the innocent; she can be sexy
  23. and yet retain an air of innocent girlishness and vulnerability.  Her high-pitched tenor
  24. sounds like the voices embraced by early radio and talkies, when rudimentary
  25. microphones made everything tinny and trebly.  Beeman’s voice alone evokes nostalgic
  26. memories (at least for those of us old enough to remember RKO musicals and Betty
  27. Boop cartoons) even before she’s reached the chorus.
  28. The trio starts off with Mae West’s “You Gotta See Momma Ev’ry Night,” with Beeman
  29. laying on the schmaltz to a simple guitar accompaniment.   Beeman makes no attempt to
  30. hide the campy nature of the song; in fact, she embraces it, and that makes her delivery a
  31. cabaretlicious delight.   The arrangement (which does run a bit long at nearly six and a
  32. half minutes) expands to include stand up bass and sassy Louis Armstrong-styled jazz
  33. trumpet.   It’s a complete delight.
  34. Parrott’s “Bird On The Street” introduces us to BB&P’s folkie side; there’s a melancholy
  35. Leonard Cohen vibe here (not unlike his “Bird On A Wire,” actually) set to a beguiling
  36. bossa nova rhythm, accentuated by flamenco guitar and jazzy bass. Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose”
  37. transports us to the bistros of Paris, complete with
  38. romantic accordion.  Beeman fully embraces the idyllic lyric with a demure trill, to
  39. beautiful effect.  Beeman’s take on the bluesy “Why Don’t You Do Right (Like Some
  40. Other Men Do)” recalls Jessica Rabbit’s slinky animated take on the song more than
  41. Peggy Lee’s original, especially with Parrott lecherously growling a suggestive call-and-
  42. response vocal.   Again, this is tart, perky, grownup fun; when Beeman coos “get me
  43. some money too,” it’s infinitely sexier than the come-ons by today’s plastic pop divas.
  44. Beeman brings a palpable sadness to her moving rendition of Hank Williams’ “I’m So
  45. Lonesome I Could Cry,” with a lonesome harmonica accentuating the simple melody.   
  46. The band evokes that old-timey speakeasy groove on the Parrott original “Plenty of
  47. Time,” a delightful duet in which his whiskey-soaked baritone shares lead duties with the
  48. coquettish Beeman.  Gene Turonis’ whistling – now there’s a lost art – adds a
  49. wonderfully nostalgic note, like a forgotten Bing Crosby B-side. 
  50. “Aragon Mills,” written by political activist and folksinger Si Kahn, proves an inspired
  51. and timely choice; it’s description of a destitute and abandoned mill town resonates with
  52. the populist uprising we’re seeing across the country, as the middle class and working
  53. poor struggle to have their voices heard.
  54. BB&P’s exquisite taste in popular standards leads to “I’m Confessin’ That I Love You,”
  55. a song that’s been identified with everyone from Louis Armstrong to Perry Como;
  56. Beeman’s gossamer touch on the song – set to Bill Bannon’s finger-picked guitar and
  57. Parrott’s simple bass line – accentuates the endearing melody and timeless lyrics. 
  58. And finally, the album closes with Beeman’s breathy, wondrous take on “When You
  59. Wish Upon A Star,” forever identified with Ukulele Ike  (the voice of Disney’s Jiminy
  60. Cricket.)   Beeman brings a cabaret feel to much of this material, but this is far the most
  61. theatrical performance on the album; close your eyes and you could easily imagine this
  62. delivered on a Broadway stage.  The simple, stripped down arrangement lets Beeman
  63. caress the song’s air of ageless longing; young or old, this is a song everyone can identify
  64. with, and Beeman does it proud.  Gene Turonis returns to whistle home the melody,
  65. ending this eminently enjoyable and sweetly nostalgic journey on an air of wistful
  66. imagining.
  68. Review by: Jim Testa
  69. Rating:  3 stars (out of 5)